Adventures with Penelope!

When skies are gloomy and clouds are grey – a two year old will brighten your day!  So goes the saying (which I clearly just engendered) but it’s quite true.  No matter what else is going on in my world, Penelope is the best and brightest thing in it.  And we have had some wonderful mommy/daughter dates over the past couple of weeks.

Including:

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Seeing Gwendolyn and the Graceful Pig as part of the Ballet Theater Company’s Spring Repertory Performance!

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Thank you Roman for the tickets!

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This VERY family friendly ballet included a nice kiosk of toys in the lobby – P scored a toy pig, which came in handy as there were three different performances, with two traditional ballets leading up to “Gwendolyn” which was narrated live by the author, David Rottenberg

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Leading up to the main act was Peer Gynt, a darkly humorous Norwegian piece exploring the woodland fantasies of the titular character.

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Alas, we didn’t find out if Gwendolyn learned to dance or not, as P’s tiny attention span ran out.  So we shall have to buy and read the book and, of course, attend next year, when she is just a little older and less wiggly!  Can’t wait to start P in ballet classes also, she is very into it and the Ballet Theater Company is very conveniently close by our house, with lots of summer programs to offer.  Fun times ahead.

In addition to fun at the ballet, P also had her first hair cut!

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We went to Snip-its in Canton and they did a wonderful job – complete with bubbles and a prize at the end.  Not a traumatizing experience for anyone (except, perhaps, Mommy).

In addition, we also went hunting for faeries at the Bellamay-Ferriday House and Garden in Bethlehem, CT.

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P was understandably upset at not finding any faeries, but considering we went in the middle of the day and they were all napping, it was quite understandable.  We also packed a picnic and ate outside, and we will be returning next weekend for the official Fairy Festival (May 16th) which includes pony rides and other fun happenings!

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One of the faerie houses on display, which will be judged next weekend with a prize for the best one.

And then, of course, there was Mother’s Day.  For Mother’s Day, I decided to do a day full of things that SHE would enjoy, as that’s what equally makes me happy – plus as a working Mom I can never get enough fun activity days with my Little (I may have also treated myself to a J Crew necklace and matching earrings on sale when we were in Canton – plus Mason jar flowers from Whole Foods – but hey, these things happen)

We started out at the American Girl Store in Natick, MA for brunch

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Yes, that’s a tiny high chair for the dolly.  And P and the dolly are wearing matching tops.  It’s all so cute I could barely stand it.  P had an awesome time, and the pancakes were nice and fluffy, the staff was friendly – the only thing that was less than desirable was the coffee – next time we go I might smuggle in my own cold brew or French press coz I’m picky when it comes to my coffee.

 

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Dessert at the end of the meal – a flower pot full of “dirt” aka chocolate pudding with crumbled cookies and sugar cookies on the side.  What an adorable idea for a little girls’ party!  I may steal it.

After brunch, we headed up to the Boston’s Children’s Museum, which is five full floors of delightful activities for littles.  P has been before, and this trip she was able to enjoy even more activities – which she will continue to grow into as she gets older.

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The bubble room was a big hit

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As was the construction zone.  Wearing a hard hat and safety vest because safety is important.

I am so blessed to have such a delightful, wonderful little daughter.  And I’m excited to see my own Mom in a couple weeks when we head down to Florida together!  I hope everyone else had a wonderful Mother’s Day too – and thanks as always for reading!

Savor CT, Penelope’s Birthday, and some fun upcoming happenings!

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Greetings friends!  Penelope’s second ballet performance is fast approaching.  We are going to see Gwendolyn and the Graceful Pig on May 2nd, with the Ballet Theater Company.  It will be ever so exciting to explore a dance interpretation of the story of a “pig like no other,” with performances at 1 pm and 7 pm (we are going to the earlier one, naturally)  Tickets are available here.  More to follow on this – and also on the March of Dimes Walk for Babies, which will be my first 5k of the year, and my first ever 5k with a stroller, as Penelope will be joining me for that too!  Hurrah.  Fun times ahead, beautiful May weather, and April hasn’t been so bad either.  Some of the highlights of this month:

Savor CT at the Connecticut Convention Center

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Pictured: Emily Cahill perusing the wine selection with an expert eye

This wonderful event featured top chefs from the region, as well as celebrity chef Robert Irvine out walking the floor (I didn’t speak with him personally but those who did assured me that he is an awfully nice gentleman).  Some of the local favorites present included:

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A “Turducken” pate from On20, courtesy of the very talented Jeff Lizotte!  Side note – I”ll also be at On20 this Friday for Happy Hour and writing up a full recap of the experience here too – very excited as I’ve never been to their happy hour before, just dinner and small plates at events.

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Pictured: a Swiss Chard Dumpling – also from On20 – my favorite bite from the entire evening!  Although that had stiff competition from the offerings of Scott Miller, Head Catering Manager of the Max Restaurant Group.  He produced a very wonderful lamb tartar

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Pictured here, with his signature edible florals which add both a bitter tang and a lovely visual element to his dishes.

Also delicious on the casual front, mini sliders from both Plan B Burger Bar:

 

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And Bear’s BBQ!

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Millwrights was present with the entire crew:

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Heeey Tyler

And there were countless more – too many to sample all of them unfortunately.  We attended the event on Friday night, and it would actually make sense to go Friday and Saturday in order to fully enjoy the entire experience.  And I haven’t even started on the wine yet!

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So much wine.

We sampled many Italian and French blends – mainly because that’s what I gravitate towards.  And by “we” I mean myself and my lovely friend Amanda, all decked out for a Mom’s Night Out without the babies!

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yaaaas.

Towards the end of the evening, we ventured over to the Rose Lounge.  Next year, i would certainly do this first, as it turned out to be only a single ty;e of Rose – Chandon to be precise

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It was utterly delightful, however with just one type, I would have preferred to start out with a glass or two before moving into the sampling.  I was picturing more of a champagne tasting with small pours – ah well – no complaints either way.

We capped out the night with a visit to the 90 Plus Cellars table, to sip some Rose and get ready for the awesome Rose Cruise this summer!

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The glasses are a requirement.

So, that was fun, but Penelope’s 2nd birthday was even better – for obvious reasons.

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Obvious, adorable reasons

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Nora Cupcakes graciously allowed us to host her princess party in their back room, and we enjoyed Bear’s BBQ, many, many cupcakes, and many, many adorable children.  I can’t believe my little girl is two years old already!  Such a beautiful, perfect princess.  Mommy is so proud.

 

@CampCourant Fundraiser @NIXSHartford and @Rooftop120 for Bubbles and Bites

Hello friends!  It’s a cloudy, dreary Friday morning, because apparently we can’t have nice things (like Spring).  Although we CAN have some nice things, such Savor at the Connecticut Convention Center tonight, and Penelope’s 2nd birthday this upcoming weekend at Nora Cupcake (tiaras and sugar, it’s really not a party for me I promise), this upcoming weekend!

And the last couple weeks haven’t been so bad either – at least for events.  Weather wise, *sigh.*  Enough on that – starting tomorrow it looks like we finally shall have Spring!.  So let’s focus on the positive shall we?

Such as:

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A fundraiser for Camp Courant!

Nixs approached me with the generous idea of hosting a fundraiser by donating all their door proceeds from the night to Camp Courant – which sends Hartford kids who are in need to a free, fun, awesome camp every summer!  Every little bit helps, and it was also a fun night out with good friends.  And delicious Brockman’s Gin cocktails!

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Yummy yummy

I stayed up way past my bedtime… and enjoyed most of it.  But let’s face it, VIP nights and bottle service are nice and fancy, but I’m a little old for that lifestyle :D

Also enjoyable last week – a Blogger’s Event at Rooftop 120,  hosted by the 203 Media Group

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Prosecco in the champagne lounge, followed by discussion of SEO tactics and best marketing practices.  Some of my very favorite things!

I’m a long time fan of Rooftop 120, having spent multiple happy hours at the gorgeous bar in the summer, as well as a very nice and special brunch with Penelope when she was a wee little baby:

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Good times with Caitlin and Hannah!  and baby P!

Head bartender Tyler DeVecchis always kills it with the cocktails, but it was very nice to sample the new menu from Head Chef Dan Fortin.  He is new to Rooftop and brings a nice Caribbean vibe to the menu, which makes my Cuban self very happy:

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Aji rubbed chili steak, grilled zucchini, peppadew peppers.  LOVED the chimichurri sauce on this one

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Jerked spice tuna, tropical fruit salsa, and fried plantains.  My favorite of all the dishes we tried.  I love, tuna, I love plaintains, and I love the two together.  

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Soy ginger marinated avocado halves, tempura fried oyster, yuzu harissa aioli.  I was highly skeptical of this one – seemed like a LOT of avocado, however, it was very tasty!  The fatty, creamy texture of the avocado balanced against the marinated crispy shrimp.  I went back for seconds.

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Red beet and goat cheese bon bons, shaved fennel orange salad, medjool date reduction.  My least favorite of all the dishes we tried – I love goat cheese and I love beets, however the combination of the two together wasn’t quite light or fluffy enough for a goat cheese ball.  Overall a fantastic sampling however.

For more delicious food porn, follow Rooftop 120’s instagram here.  And don’t wait for the warm weather to go – although that is fast approaching by the looks of it!  It’s a great year round venue!

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One bonus picture courtesy of John Estrada of 203 media – that’s me in a hat taking a picture of the food.  Not at all ridiculous.  And LOVE the fisheye iPad accessory he used to get the bubble effect in this picture!  We learned a lot and had great food to boot – thanks again for having us.

Let’s Play with our Food with @HSOTweets (plus – Big Red and Aids CT Oscars Night)

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Hello friends!  Such a long hiatus from blogging for me.  A body at rest tends to stay at rest, a body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body going through drastic changes tends to… not get much blogging accomplished.  So – finally – back at it with three fantastic events: two past and one upcoming this Saturday!

So let’s start with Playing with Food, one of my favorite yearly shows from the Hartford Symphony.  The brainchild of Head Conductor, Carolyn Kuan, this is the third inception of Playing with Food – this year featuring the handsome and charming Fabio Viviani of Top Chef fame onstage with Carolyn to discuss the dishes of the Vivo, M & M Bistro, and the CT Convention Center!

I was fortunate enough to attend the press preview for Vivo to witness Carolyn’s creative process in action:

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Somedays my job is cooler than other days (the Marriott where Vivo resides, as well as the Hartford Symphony, are both advertising clients of mine)

Carolyn Kuan uses the opportunity of tasting the dishes to begin building connections to musical notes.  A french bouillabaisse might call up a light French horn, for example, or bone marrow might be reminiscent of a “big fat tuba” (direct quote)

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Also, delicious bone marrow.  Pictured: Chef Bill Reardon’s braised Veal Osso Bucco with chanterelles, Risotto Milanese, and Tomato Espuma.

After the tasting, Carolyn creates connections to classical pieces of music, and they are performed live at the concert, after a chat with the chefs, in order to complete the connection between the sight, smell, and taste of the food and the sound of the music!

The show will be this Saturday, March 21st, at 730 pm, at the Bushnell Mortenson Hall.  You can buy tickets here.

So, that will be pretty awesome.  Also noteworthy this past month: the Aids CT Oscars NightThis yearly event raises money for the Aids Foundation and is a great chance to get dolled up and experience some live red carpet action.  It’s nice to watch at home in your PJs sure, but who doesn’t like a little glamor in their life?

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All dolled up with some good friends

I wore an awesome, sequined criss cross dress from Venom Vintage, who can provide cutting edge period pieces for any red carpet event:

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The braids?  I’m not sure where the braids came from.  Lazy Girl hair day I guess

Spotlight Theaters on Front Street was the gracious host of the event for the second year in a row.  It works well as they have a full bar in the theater, plus all the movie seating to watch the Oscars live on a big screen!  Very fun idea.

Last, but certainly not least – Big Red celebrated its 10th anniversary in existence with the Greater Hartford Arts Council

Housed at the Society Room, Big Red features wine sampling and food pairings from local vinters and chefs, making for an excellent evening of food, wine, conversation, and most importantly – raising money to support arts and culture in Hartford!

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With our new Publisher, Rick Daniels, Mary Lou Stoneburner, our VP of Advertising and Michael Guinan, Ad Director for Hartford Magazine

One of the major, major highlights for the evening for me was the enormous paella brought by J Restaurant:

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Wow.  I could curl up and take a nap in that paella pan – it’s that big

The paella paired nicely with a Sottobosco Rosso blend, a deep Italian red with just a hint of sweetness (I personally prefer pairing paella with red wine vs white – I feel it has enough meaty characteristics to go both ways)

Also on hand for drinks – a pleasing Ginger & Thyme Prosecco cocktail from Vito’s

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Executive Chef, Rob Maffucci, was also onsite serving his signature truffled chocolate pasta dish

Also noteworthy on the food scapes – Bear’s Smokehouse,

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Literal bears yaaas

Nora Cupcakes, naturally

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The very best!

And a wonderful, local, Granby based ice cream store – Grass Roots Creamery

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I tried lemongrass, so good.  They have impressive, unique flavor combos inspired by Humphry Slocombe

Overall, a very good couple of weeks for food and culture in Hartford.  There’s definitely no shortage of cool things to choose from – so get out there and enjoy it!

NOLCHA Fashion Week

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This was my second season at Nolcha Fashion Week – an independent showcase for designers during New York Fashion Week.  It’s an amazing opportunity to preview indie designs from very talented up and coming fashion retailers – and the whole thing is housed in the very cool Chelsea Piers

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I like anywhere that puts the hash tag right on the wall

I headed down with my very cool friend Kat, (two Kats!  go ahead and have fun with that.  we always do).  She is a very talented photographer and graphic designer, and all the fashion photos in the latter half of this article were taken by her.  You can check out her website here:

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And of course, our road trip snap chat!  Taken by her because I was, you know, driving and stuff

Other good friends at Nolcha: Paula has been closely involved in this show for six years and was kind enough to get me passes to all three designer showcases.  Thanks Paula!  You looked fab as always

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xoxo

In addition to the fashion, there are some cool product samplings from the Nolcha sponsors.  My favorites were:

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J R Ewing Bourbon.  Oh hello.  Ever since beginning my 2014 quest to appreciate bourbon, I’ve been growing and growing as a connoisseur.  Best. Resolution.  Ever.  This particular on – named for the eponymous Dallas character yet produced in Kentucky (of course) is smooth and crisp with just a hint of a bite at the end.  Just like J R.  Hoping to find a local distributor in CT!

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Solo Gel Nails.  This one was a mixed bag for me.  As you can see by the snap chat caption – I was VERY excited to get it – more so than any of the other swag.  However, I found that several of the layers I put on bubbled a bit and one of them chipped off.  Now, it does state very clearly that this is a ONE coat system.  So I’ll have to try again and see if I have better luck.  I can be a messy child.  The color is very fab too, so I’m hoping it works better the second time around

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Pretty red

Last but certainly not least – Vegan Therapy hair products!

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Such nice ladies!  And the shampoo and conditioner were lightweight and left my hair shiny and silky smooth.  I’m not personally a vegan, but I do love that this product isn’t tested on animals and I think it’s very cool that there are good options out there for my vegan friends – and I would use this based on its quality alone.  Very nice.

Another highlight of the evening in terms of discovering new products – a serendipitous run in with a girl carrying a Leoht bag!  What’s a leoht you ask?  Well, it’s a concept bag which will be launching in the fall which sports LED lighting and two USB ports for bag charging purposes!  I need it, I will have it, that is all

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You probably need it too!  Right?  Right.

But enough with the preludes.  We were at Nolcha for one very important reason: fashion.  And fashion we had in spades.  There were three separate shows featuring a total of eight designers: Yvette Hass, Haute Athletics, Charles & Ron, Mitsou Ly, Katty Xiomara, Prieston, Ann Himsel, and Danny Nguyen Couture

 My personal highlights: dark plum and leather accents, lots of capes (hello 70s), seeing sportswear from HA on the cat walk, transparent white and fashion forward pieces from Yvette Hass, and a twist of urban cool from Ann Himsel.  But don’t take my word for it – a picture is worth a thousand words after all – so check out these pictures from Kat Mizla:

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50 Shades of Grey Revisited + a LOVE STORY

The Courant published a very pithy, very witty, very en pointe piece yesterday on 50 Shades of Grey – the Movie.  You can read it here if you’d like.  It inspired me to dig up my own quasi-feminist rant on the same topic – well close – I actually wrote my piece on the book.  Before we dive into my rantings, however, check out this upcoming show by my good friend Laree!  Perfect for Valentines Day, amirite?

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More info available here

So yes, back to my ramblings on 50 Shades:

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ahem

Ok, ok, ok.  So this is a New York Times bestseller.  As a writer of sorts, I can appreciate that a whole truckload of people read, and most likely, did not think that Fifty Shades of Grey sucked in unintentional ways that had nothing to do with all the actual sucking going on, if you catch my oh-so-unsubtle drift.  And as Oscar Wilde famously remarked: “insanity is a minority of one.”  But as I muttered under my breath, to my dogs, about five minutes ago: “‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is like ‘Twilight’ for soccer moms.”

I’m irritated by the near unanimous consensus that we are supposed to get all hot and bothered in our lady parts by the one-dimensional, cardboard, rich, troubled, genius: Mr. Grey.  Sure, some women do like it.  They like it a lot, apparently:

But it’s called ‘the feminine mystique’ for a reason people – we are turned on in mysterious and intricate ways.  If there was a one step, proven way to get us gals going, the male half of our species would be as ecstatic as a college student with a brand new Audi (no wait, she hated the car….oh sorry, spoiler alert).  Now, I’ve read – and appreciated – erotica before.  Full disclosure.  But reading this book was a path of self discovery of sorts for me, as I found out that my ultimate turnoff is bad writing. I’ve been more aroused reading the “news” section of Glenn Beck’s website.  Ok – so perhaps that’s an ever so slight (read, massive) hyperbole.  It’s impossible to be turned on when thinking of Glenn Beck.  Science!  But it’s also highly difficult for a little, literate geek like me to be seduced by lazy and trite character development, predictable plot full of chiseled chinned billionaires and swooning virgins, and – let’s face it – the safest S & M this side of the Mississippi.  Or the other side of the river too- those west coasters can be pretty freaky I’m sure.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying this book, if you did.  And there’s nothing wrong with fluffy reading.  Steven King was correct when he said that some books should be read for the plot and the action, and others for the writing.  Unfortunately, and I’m sure somewhat subjectively, for me, Fifty Shades of Grey was neither the former nor latter.

A very fun and special Frozen photoshoot for Penelope with Sassy Mouth Photo!

So, my child is a tiny, tiny Ham.  She loves the camera, the camera loves her – who am I to argue with true love?  And the mini sessions at Sassy Mouth Photo are fun and perfect and oh so convenient for taking nice pictures of a Little who doesn’t like to stay still – but does love to be in front of the lens

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“Yes, adore me.  I’m Perfect.”  All photo credits to Sassy Mouth in this blog – with the exception of the two photos that she is in, which I took (naturally)

All Marisa’s photo shoots are themed – this was Frozen, naturally – and my what small child isn’t obsessed with Frozen?  Penelope certainly is.  We watch “Let It Go” on Youtube at least five times a day.  It grows more enjoyable with each viewing, trust me.  So, a chance to twirl as Elsa was truly magical, and the half hour session length is just perfect for little attention spans.

Plus, Marisa is really, really, really great with kids.  She and P hit it off straight away:

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Such good friends, so quickly

And her studio is perfect and full of exactly what a child would want – small chairs, indoor snowballs, and OLAF

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE OLAF!

P had such a wonderful time, and we have so many great pictures from the shoot:

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MY BABY!!!

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So precious

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So happy!

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CAN YOU STAND IT

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And this child found her mark every single time.  Such a tiny pro :*)

I’m already looking forward to a Mommy/Daughter tea time photoshoot for mother’s day with Sassy Mouth.  Please, do like her Facebook page hereOr follow her Instagram hereAnd if you have a Little and live in CT – check her out!  Super fun experience for everyone.